Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Long days, short years: Jan. 17, 2010

If I've learned one thing in the past 10 years, it's how temporary it all is. That's a valuable thing to know on the days that seem punishingly long. And it's just a heartbreaker once you realize how many of those short years have flitted past.

The end of what sometimes seemed endless

    The truest thing I have ever read about parenting went like this: The years are short, but the days are long.

    I can't remember where I read it, but that idea came back to me recently as we shopped for car seats for our littlest boy, Ben, who turned 5 this month. He's 40 pounds, and we're moving him from those infernal-but-safe five-point harness seats to high-back boosters.

    We went through this with our oldest son, of course, but this time, instead of storing car seats in the attic for the eventual arrival of another baby, we sent out emails to our friends, asking them if they could use a free car seat -- or two or three.

    And as our littlest boy has outgrown his clothes, I have not folded them neatly into storage bins in the attic labeled 12mos-2T or 3T-4T. I have tossed them into bags and trundled them to Goodwill or handed them off to our friends who have littler boys than we do. I have found that it makes me irrationally happy to see the clothes my sons wore still out there, still being worn by someone's little boy.

    A part of my life that I honestly sometimes felt would never end is really and truly over. The babies are gone, the toddlers are gone, even the pre-schoolers are gone. I am the mother of Big Kids.

    My emotions shuttle between elation at the passage of the high-maintenance years when every bite they ate was a bite I fed them, and sorrow at the realization that such a sweetly intense time in my life as a mother is over.

    During those short years, there were long days when I sat and wept from a potent combination of maternal exhaustion, frustration and boredom. Long days when I honestly just wanted to be left alone to read a book or eat a meal with no one in my lap, but could not get even a few consecutive seconds to myself. Long, long days.

    And there were days I was overwhelmingly happy as I saw my impossibly helpless newborns bloom into sturdy babies and then funny toddlers. I remember afternoons that felt like they would never end because the sun was shining and my little boys were happy and we were together and having a fantastic time.

   The years went by, and the days did too. There is already so much I can’t quite remember. But I recall with total clarity when all my babies were looking for as they searched a room with their eyes was my face.

Yep, I'm here. Don't you worry.


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